Trans* in College Transgender Students' Strategies for Navigating Campus Life and the Institutional Politics of Inclusion
WINNER of 2017 AERA DIVISION J OUTSTANDING PUBLICATION AWARDCHOICE 2017 Outstanding Academic TitleThis is both a personal book that offers an account of the author’s own trans* identity and a deeply engaged study of trans* collegians that reveals the complexities of trans* identities, and how these students navigate the trans* oppression present throughout society and their institutions, create community and resilience, and establish meaning and control in a world that assumes binary genders. This book is addressed as much to trans* students themselves – offering them a frame to understand the genders that mark them as different and to address the feelings brought on by the weight of that difference – as it is to faculty, student affairs professionals, and college administrators, opening up the implications for the classroom and the wider campus.This book not only remedies the paucity of literature on trans* college students, but does so from a perspective of resiliency and agency. Rather than situating trans* students as problems requiring accommodation, this book problematizes the college environment and frames trans* students as resilient individuals capable of participating in supportive communities and kinship networks, and of developing strategies to promote their own success. Z Nicolazzo provides the reader with a nuanced and illuminating review of the literature on gender and sexuality that sheds light on the multiplicity of potential expressions and outward representations of trans* identity as a prelude to the ethnography ze conducted with nine trans* collegians that richly documents their interactions with, and responses to, environments ranging from the unwittingly offensive to explicitly antagonistic.The book concludes by giving space to the study’s participants to themselves share what they want college faculty, staff, and students to know about their lived experiences. Two appendices respectively provide a glossary of vocabulary and terms to address commonly asked questions, and a description of the study design, offered as guide for others considering working alongside marginalized population in a manner that foregrounds ethics, care, and reciprocity.
Foreword—Kristen A. Renn Acknowledgments Introduction1. Situating The Study • Interlude. Introducing My Community 2. A Review of Trans*-Related Research • Interlude. Bruised by Data 3. The Gender Binary Discourse 4. Compulsory Heterogenderism 5. Resilience as a Verb 6. The (Tiring. Labor of Practicing Trans* Genders 7. A Constellation of Kinship Networks • Interlude. An Ending Full of Beginnings 8. Implications Epilogue Afterword—Stephen John Quaye Glossary Appendix References About the Author Index
"An increased public awareness about trans* individuals (trans* is an inclusive term for anyone along the gender non-conforming identity spectrum) has been accompanied by a growing body of published research into what might be called “the neglected T” of the conveniently lumped-together-as-singular 'LGBT community.'
The author, a faculty associate in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Northern Illinois University, offers this well-written, revealing ethnographic study of nine trans* college students and sheds light on an area of gender identity that has long needed attention, especially in the wake of an upsurge in bias crimes and a concerted effort to thwart the rights of trans* people. (It’s not just about the bathroom!) The book gives voice to the students within a broad understanding of sexuality and identity that people have tended to look at from a binary perspective (gay/straight, male/female). Such an oversimplification ignores the lives of those who are most directly affected. Because the book specifically considers how trans* individuals function within a college setting, it is especially recommended as a must-read resource for higher education administrators, faculty, and those providing support services.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through practitioners."
H. M. Miller, Mercy College
"With recent estimates of the trans* population in the United States showing three to six times as many trans* people under the age of 18 as there are over the age of 18, the work Z Nicolazzo undertakes in this book should be required reading for educators at every level of instruction. Gender is changing in ways we can scarcely comprehend, and millions of students already live lives that break the gender binary and contest what Nicolazzo calls 'compulsory heterogenderism.' We owe it to those students to acknowledge their reality, and reflect it in our pedagogy, curriculum, and institutional practices."
Susan Stryker, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies
University of Arizona, and founding co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
“A timely and persuasive contribution to the literature on communities on the margins of higher education, Nicolazzo offers deep insight into the multiplicity of intersectional and systemic barriers faced by trans* collegians. But this book goes far past the expected story of trans* suffering to powerfully center trans* resilience and voice. The trans* students at the heart of this work demand better from all of us. A must read for all concerned with true inclusion and change in the academy.
For every higher education administrator and change agent, this book offers a clarion call to consider how the collegiate environment continues to be shaped without trans* students in mind.”
Sumun L. Pendakur, Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity
Harvey Mudd College
“Z Nicolazzo offers a powerful analysis of trans* collegian’s experiences and honors their voices. Ze delivers a thoughtful and provocative book about resilience, kinship, and social justice, requiring readers to think more critically about safety, outness, engagement, and identity. Nicolazzo’s book draws much needed attention to trans* oppression in higher education, how we are all implicated, and calls for us to re-think our approach to practices that shape our campus environments.”
Chase Catalano, Assistant Professor, College Student Personnel
Western Illinois University
"In a society and educational system that repeatedly marginalizes trans* people, Z Nicolazzo has done what few higher education scholars attempt; that is, Z not only centers the experiences of Trans* college students but presents their stories in a way that brings visibility to their lives and wonderfully humanizes them as whole people. Trans* In College is an amazingly thoughtful and introspective examination of what it means to both navigate and transgress the exclusive structures, policies, and culture of post-secondary institutions. Readers will appreciate Z’s approach in this book, particularly hir capacity to complicate existing Trans*-related research and the liminal space that Trans* persons have occupied in gender and sexuality discourses. This book is a necessary read for anyone, particularly cisgender people, seeking to understand Trans* lives and experiences in college. While the emphasis is on Trans* students, this book has larger implications for facilitating social justice on college and university campuses. This book should be required classroom reading and would be an outstanding resource for professional development programs. Lastly, this book should serve as inspiration to prompt future research which centers Trans* lives."
Lori D. Patton, Professor, Higher Education & Student Affairs Program
Indiana University School of Education
"Dr. Z Nicolazzo’s first book, Trans* in College is a beautifully written, rigorous, and masterful insight into the lives of nine trans* collegians at City University [a pseudonym] and how postsecondary educators can do better to support the education, resilience practices, and life chances for trans* collegians. Through the use of critical theoretical frameworks and methodologies that begin from the experiences and needs of the participants, Nicolazzo also demonstrates new possibilities for both the doing and reporting of research in higher education. As a scholar, I look forward to sharing this book with future graduate students as an example of how we can proliferate possibilities through and for scholarship. As a trans* parent of a trans* child, I am unspeakably grateful to the nine trans* collegians who have collaborated with Nicolazzo to create together this beautiful reflection of us."
Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, Ph.D., Higher Education and Student Affairs
Bowling Green State University
“There has never been a more important time for a book like this one that helps readers know that trans* college students are not only possible, but they face the seemingly impossible task of speaking their stories and, in the tradition of minoritized peoples, writing themselves into existence.
As is so clear throughout this book, trans* students are not impossible people in higher education. For centuries higher education has constructed itself to be an impossible place for trans* people to be themselves, to be safe, to be seen. We with power in higher education (e.g., tenured and tenure-stream faculty, administrators, majoritized students) have allowed it to be so, and benefitted from it. We can change it. We can read the stories represented in this book and we can make higher education live up to its best image of itself as an institution that provides opportunity. It’s time we see, and let them be seen on their terms, not ours."
From the Foreword by Kristen Renn
“This well-written, revealing ethnographic study of nine trans* college students sheds light on an area of gender identity that has long needed attention, especially in the wake of an upsurge in bias crimes and a concerted effort to thwart the rights of trans* people. (It’s not just about the bathroom!) The book gives voice to the students within a broad understanding of sexuality and identity that people have tended to look at from a binary perspective (gay/straight, male/female). Such an oversimplification ignores the lives of those who are most directly affected. Because the book specifically considers how trans* individuals function within a college setting, it is especially recommended as a must-read resource for higher education administrators, faculty, and those providing support services. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”